Page 12 - January-February 2020 HER
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      After 30 years on the Memphis, Tenn., police force and four years with the U.S. Marshals Service, Patti Pendleton continues to serve and protect the public as head of Oaklawn Racing Casino Resort’s security division.
“I have 35 years in law enforcement,” she said. “I started out of Memphis, Tenn. I was in a pro- gram right out of high school — a cadet program. ... We worked every department and they sent us to college, and then we had a program (where we) then became commissioned,” Pendleton said.
“From there, I had a million different jobs with the police department (for) over 29 years. I was in communications, I was in child abuse (and) sexual abuse, I was in document squad, I did some crime analysis. ... Just tons of jobs (and) tons of training — everything you can think of,” she said.
When the time came, Pendleton and her hus- band began searching for a new location to retire to before soon fulfilling their respective career tenures, and after spending some time on idyllic Lake Ouachita and Hot Springs National Park, it wasn’t long before the pair decided that the city of Hot Springs would soon become home.
“For years and years, we had come over here to camp on Lake Ouachita and our very best
friends — a nurse and another police officer that we worked with in Memphis — had plans to come here and retire; she was from here,” Pendleton said. “So we learned about Hot Springs from them, camped and loved the lakes, and (we) decided to buy a lot on the lake to build our house before we retired. When we retired, we did it,” she said.
For various reasons, Pendleton soon found herself looking to return to the workforce, and be- cause of her vast knowledge in the field of criminal justice, she soon found a good fit that would put her extensive skills to good use.
Going on five years as a security employee at Oaklawn, Pendleton has continued to climb the ranks of her department as she has worked her way toward a notable level of degree, leadership and responsibility.
“I started here as an assistant and they pro- moted me to a floor manager then they promoted me to game room manager, and then I got this last promotion,” she said. “I’ve been here five years and they’ve promoted me four times; they don’t want me to leave. I love it; I love this place and I love this job. I have a great staff.”
Her responsibilities encompass myriad tasks, but the unique opportunity and ability to connect
with people is what she admires and treasures most about the work she does.
“I love working. I love working with people. ... It’s so interesting. (And) being a woman I think, was just a bonus. This company really does respect and have a lot of women at very high positions, so I’m just thrilled to death that they were smart enough to get somebody like me,” she said with a laugh.
As a woman leading security detail in the midst of a casino environment, Pendleton feels her am- ple experience and criminal justice background provides her with the insight needed to perform her job effectively.
Firsthand training in the field combined with years of acquired knowledge has helped hone Pendleton’s skills in analyzing circumstantial sit- uations while also being able to better understand the parties involved.
“It is a fabulous opportunity,” Pendleton said. “I think my qualifications are far and above ... I can’t imagine them wanting anything else with the background that I’ve got that has prepared me for this job. ... With my background and all the training I’ve had, I don’t really get any flak (as a woman),” she said.
Story by Rebeca Rector, photography by Grace Brown

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